The Kent School District ditches plan to eliminate 127 teacher jobs

KENT, Wash. -- The Kent School District announced Friday that after a "re-evaluation of district revenue," it has decided to ditch its plan to eliminate 127 staff jobs in the 2018-19 school year and instead to reduce only 60 positions through "natural attrition" as people leave or retire over the years.

The district's plans to cut 127 staff positions and nine administrator jobs for the 2018-19 school year drew the wrath of staff and parents. It was announced after voters had just approved two levy measures for the school district.

In a marathon public comment session before the board on March 14, person after person wanted to know why the planned cuts were happening just weeks after voters approved the new levies to fund the district.

"I think if we knew ... you wouldn't have got your money," one parent told the board, alluding to the levies. "I feel like I've been had!"

In a news release Friday, the school district said, "While anticipating a RIF (reduction in force) has produced anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration with our staff, students, and community, it was based on the confirmed information about revenue we had at the time."

Since then, however, the district began a "re-evaluation of district revenue" after Gov. Jay Inslee signed the new budget bill on Tuesday.

"As a result of the re-evaluation of district revenue, KSD will be eliminating 60 FTE from KEA (Kent Education Association positions) through natural attrition as opposed to the 127 FTE originally forecasted for a RIF, an allocation that was based on preliminary revenue numbers. An elimination of 60 FTE means that KSD will not be required to implement a RIF for teachers. Therefore, KSD leadership will not present a reduction in force resolution to the Board for 2018-2019 and has notified the Board of this development."

The attached video is from the March 14 public hearing on the district's original plan.